SmartThings Needs an Independent Change Management Process Review Team

Continuing the discussion from Warning: new lan discovery feature in 2.3:

It has once again come to my attention that Beta Groups (and board meetings where ‘Market Research’ and Support History are discussed, and/or studied) are obviously NOT enough to ensure things go smoothly with corporate-lead technology changes here in SmartThings-land.

So, I suggest something more substantial, proactive, and intentional be officially established, and maintained to help in this area.

The group would be officially ‘Authorized’ by SmartThings, but not 'Authoritative’
i.e. their role would be as trusted and valuable advisers, but SmartThings would still make any and all critical decisions.

They would NOT be SmartThings employees; though they could be offered a ‘stipend’ through a Community-Supported donation fund.

They would be chosen (and membership would be maintained ) by a ‘board of directors’ of sorts that would be made up of both Community Members AND SmartThings employees; though the chair of this board (a SmartThings executive; i.e. thus, SmartThings) would have ‘the last word’.

There would need to be a number of different types of Members on the team; including…

  • Groovey Code-Slingers and Real-World Developers who understand what’s actually happening in the code and in the SmartThings infrastructure

  • Popular and helpful Members who have a finger on the pulse of the Community via their close and constant interactions with others here

  • Business-minded Members who understand Change Management ‘Best Practices’ and who can communicate and help guide the team in this regard


  • Probably at least one official SmartThings employee (besides the exec in the Chair position) to help facilitate meetings and to serve as an Liaison/Interface between the Team and SmartThings. This position may also be required to participate in SmartThings’ official Communications, and Public Relations Teams (I would be happy to move to San Francisco, and take the position in order to serve in this capacity. :slight_smile: ).

Any more ideas around this?

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During my career I worked with some really big companies, fortune 500 types.

In my experience, companies generally had one of two basic philosophies:

They designed around customer experience or

They designed around what they could demo to investors/press/board members.

Either kind of company could be successful financially. It was a difference in corporate culture, often driven from the top, and there was absolutely nothing you could do at any other level in terms of committees or reports or reviews for quality control protocols that would change the basic issue.

Either the designers put themselves in the place of the customer and imagined at every step how the customer who currently had the system would be impacted by any changes or, well, they didn’t. Instead they focused on driving development to deliver a particular feature.

Take, for example, the recent decision to change the color of the tiles in the things list.

A customer experience focused company would prepare all of the changes before releasing any of them and would issue a statement to customers explaining what the change was and how it would look. Because they would understand that a customer who suddenly saw that some devices were green and some were blue might feel concerned. And that there might be customers who were using the color as information.

A feature demo focused company would release the first change that was ready as soon as it was ready so they could show it to people internally. They wouldn’t tell the customers that the change was coming. They wouldn’t worry about the fact the customers would open the app and see that some icons are blue and some were green and have no idea why. Because their focus was on demonstrating (not fully delivering, just being able to demonstrate) a new feature as quickly as possible.

This is how smartthings has operated for the two years that I’ve had the system. Whether it was removing the ability to add a mode from the mobile app, removing Hue connect, changing the behavior of LED indicator lights on devices using stock handlers, or many other changes, features were pushed out as quickly as possible without notifying customers or considering whether the customer experience would be changed.

Again, there are many successful companies who have this “feature first” culture. It’s not unusual. But I don’t know of any way to change it to a “customer experience first” culture from the outside, and that includes from customer feedback.

Just my own experience…


That’s a good start.

I proposed this directly to management awhile back. No response. Let me see if I can find my proposal.


In my decades long career, I’ve only worked for Type #2. … Until now.


A.k.a. “agile” programming. :grimacing:


This is exactly how i thought things should’ve played out with the color change in the new app update!

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While I agree with this in principle, it’s a fact that 80%-90% of people don’t read Release Notes.

Before the era of “continuous improvement” (aka, before frequent automatic firmware and app updates), the product you bought was the product you kept… It would stay largely unchanged (or even 100% unchanged until you were influenced to by a new version or model because of the new features and despite any undesired design changes).

I think, given this new era, it is inevitable that companies will make changes without significant customer communication.

In order to avoid “cry wolf :wolf: syndrome” (ie, “update bulletin fatigue”), release notes need to be rare and should only highly substantially impactful changes.

Power-users and Developers are different than consumers. Especially on the definition of what is" substantially impactful".

I may be over speculating, but I’m betting 80%+ of SmartThings Customers are not considering the new LAN device discovery to be a problem. Mostly because they don’t really care, or it averages out between favorable / unfavorable, or they feel it is futile to try to influence a corporation’s design decisions.


I would respectfully disagree. Whether it’s a game, a home automation device, or a cloud server, there are still many companies that publish “what’s new” bulletins, some of which pop up when you first open the software after a change.

Amazon sends a “what’s new with Alexa” bulletin once a week, and that’s as mass market as you get in this space.

I’m not saying every company documents every change, nor that every customer reads the documentation, but customer experience oriented companies do have a place that explains changes that impact the customer experience.

And I’ve unsubscribed from them due to:

  1. Update notification fatigue.
  2. Obvious use of that bulletin as a marketing channel. It’s opt-in spam, but spamminess is still why a tremendous proportionate of Alexa owners ignore it.
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Choice is good. :sunglasses: If they offer the information and offer an easy way to unsubscribe, I think that’s good.


Mate you missed #3

The ones who design and demo vaporware to customers and investors of things that look good but arent in place, dont work, never been tested to work or are just mockups … the ‘works with smartthings’-tag feels more like this to be honest …

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In my experience. Software / IT organizations knowingly release relatively small bugs such as this into the production environment with every release. If the bug is uncovered late in the process and the powers that be (Product, Marketing, Management, Dev Leads, QA etc) determine that that cost, benefit, and risk doesn’t justify an immediate fix, the release ships and the bug is catalogued away for prioritization later.

Simply testing and identifying a feature flaw, bug, etc is easy, prioritizing the fix is the hard part. A community driven test and advisory group does nothing to affect the latter.

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Frankly I had proposed to Alex almost two years ago have a simple set of metrics like First Time Right and Repeat rate of bugs to start tracking which will go a long way in ensuring customer focus. Not sure if they ever implemented it. Overall things are much better with the exception of the Android product team. They can’t seem to get on the band wagon. But there’s always room for improvement. I will reserve my comments for the new beta program for a new thread once I have some additional data points.

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This is the kind of thing that should not be decided by majority vote. The majority of people I share the road with every day don’t seem to care about speed limit. It doesn’t mean that it should be abandoned, does it?

To me, it’s just sloppy engineering which unfortunately has become a norm in the millennial culture. Like, for example, using upgredability of today’s devices as an excuse to release half-baked, untested software.


I agree, and have one other observation. In my years of developing software for a large financial corporation, it doesn’t matter if it is the employees or the customers…they all hate change! There may be 10% that recognize and appreciate the enhancements and/or fix, but 90% are angry that you changed their day to day routine.

Definitely just my “experienced” $.02


I agree, but this is business … The Board of Directors of the corporation making the product … is decided by a vote of the shareholders… who are interesting in the majority of customers, not the few edge cases. Maybe short-sighted; but quarterly profits are paramount. Even if it causes batteries to explode.

Apparently, smart guys on the Volkswagen Groups board of directors also thought it was a good idea to circumvent emission controls for the sake of quarterly profits. Bad business.


SmartThings does this now. The last 2 updates have a slideshow of what’s new… but it doesn’t include all the changes. The last one had no mention of color changes. The previous one had no mention of low battery alerts being added. And I’m personally fine with this approach.

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Hey I would not have known it was Chuck Norris birthday. :grinning:I like the update as it might include something I missed but ignore the rest because of no interest. I except at some point it will be overtaken.

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